Judge: Gov. Quinn Can Cut Regional School Sups Pay Checks

August 26, 2011

A circuit judge has upheld Gov. Pat Quinn's authority to eliminate salaries for regional school superintendents across Illinois.

Sangamon County Judge John Schmidt says the governor has "broad power'' to control state spending. He ruled Friday that it would be wrong to thrust the court into the appropriations process. Quinn vetoed about $10 million in salaries for 44 superintendents and about 40 assistants.

"This is a very important issue," Quinn said after the ruling. "It's about $10 or $11 million that we want to use in the classroom, and I think that's more important to put the education money of Illinois to teach students in the classroom than to have bureaucracy."

The superintendents have been working without pay since July 1. They perform a list of duties -- many required by the state --including certifying teachers, doing background checks and running truancy programs. He said if local officials want to keep them those employees on the payroll, then they should come up with local money to pay them.

The president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents, Bob Daiber, said he is disappointed by the ruling. He said three superintendents have stepped down since the salary dispute began and more could make that choice.

"I think this is a ridiculous expectation," Daiber said. "There is no one that is expected in America to work without compensation. I think that the Governor has acted poorly on this issue."

Gov. Quinn said he expects superintendents can continue working without pay for another two months.

"It'll be resolved when the General Assembly comes back into session in late October," Quinn said. "This is just a very important issue, it's about (money) we wanted to use in the classroom."

Daiber said superintendents are asking legislators to return to Springfield early for a vote to restore the funding, but he said he predicts that's unlikely.

"Clearly, we must focus now on encouraging legislators to again stand with us and provide relief for this incredibly difficult situation as soon as possible," Daiber said.

Story source: AP